Home-based tech training benefits rural residents

By Lois Ann Dort    

Guysborough County residents recognize the familiar @ sign as an indicator of public internet access. The Community Access Program (C@P), rebranded this year as @NS, which provides this service free to the public, also provides training in everything from word processing, digital photography and general computing in rural communities across the county.

This spring one-on-one computer training was provided by instructor Philip Hall to seniors in the Guysborough area. Hall tailored sessions to clients’ needs in a stress-free environment; often the clients' own home. This one-on-one, door-to-door service was greatly appreciated by clients who signed up for the program.

Jude Avery in Larry's River, a contributor to this paper, was very pleased with the service. “For me, as a senior, it was great. He actually came to the house to do the sessions. That worked out well. It was one-on-one which means he dealt with the issues that I wanted to have addressed. He tailor-made the sessions for me and I suspect he did the same for others. That was extremely helpful.”

Avery hopes to compile his popular Guysborough Journal column, People of Perseverance, into a book and the computer sessions helped him organize his work and move closer to that goal.

In rural areas, residents usually have to travel to access training. To have education come to your door is a particular perk of this program, especially for seniors. “To have it come to our doorstep was incredible,” said Avery.

Mary Ann Clyke of Sunnyville was another client who accessed the program. Clyke wanted to work on managing her photos and learned a lot about how to save and share photos from her computer. “I can go anywhere and show anybody my pictures. I knew a lot (about computers) but I never knew how to do this. I only had one session and I picked up lots. It was one-on-one and it's better to learn that way than in a group.”

Chair of the Guysborough County C@P program Sheila Pelly also took advantage of the training on offer. She said, “It was a real benefit, not just in my community, but in those where the C@P sites are located.”

Pelly told The Journal that facing a computer can sometimes be intimidating and having instruction in your home, in a familiar environment with a patient teacher, was a great experience and opportunity.

The program started in March and was funded for 200 hours for the instructor. Pelly has recently been notified that the project has received an extension and a few more hours of training may be available.